Evergreens: We had evergreens in front of our house, right by the road. You could look out the picture window, down the hill, and see the church right across the street. I like when it snows on the evergreen trees.

The two older boy neighbors: I felt a weird check about sledding with them because I was small and had to sit on an older boys lap. It wasn’t scary, it was a momentary hitch that I didn’t understand. When I sat on their lap, two snowsuits worth of padding between us, and he kept me safe down the hill, even when we ended up almost hitting a tree or almost sliding into the road…He was a person. And he treated me like a person. He didn’t feel unsafe to me when I sat on his lap and now I can say with certainty that it was because he did nothing untoward; he didn’t touch or handle me in any sexual or demeaning way, he didn’t use any of the slurs that my family did, he didn’t comment on my body or shape in any way, and I genuinely felt that he extended a human amount of empathy and neighborliness to sled with a tinier person. I remember one time when he used his own body to shield me: we were off balance at the start and we veered afoul of one of the evergreen trees but he was able to lean enough to spin the tube/sled so he could grab the trunk and absorb the impact. I remember being a little dazed and hearing him groan out “owwwwww…my bones…” he was being a littlee comical but I couldn’t tell that at the time. I asked him “You okay?? Help, we need help!” but he perked up and soothed “I’m okay now, don’t worry.”

I think of this memory and realize that over the years I met several normal people, spent time with them, experienced some normal interactions. But these are also the things my bio dad tried to isolate me from. Those experiences of normal threatened his power. I’m so glad his version of isolation wasn’t always complete. I have read stories of the people who had an even more isolated childhood, and can I just say, I feel thankful that I am finding a few good memories to hold onto while I search through this rubble of my life.


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